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Willy Russell Plays: Blood Brothers, Our Day Out and Educating Rita - and the theme of Social Inequality

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Introduction

In the three plays I have read by Willy Russell, all of them are linked by the fact that they all contain an aspect of social inequality. Russell uses humour in all these plays to show serious messages, mostly through stereotypes. In every play there are two very contrasting social groups, each figure-headed by certain characters in the stories. For example, in Blood Brothers, Mickey figureheads the working class society like Rita does in Educating Rita, and the children do in Our Day Out. Whereas Eddie figureheads the middle class society in Blood Brothers, Frank does in Educating Rita, and Mr. Briggs does in Our Day Out. We found that the people from the working class backgrounds were all very broad scoucers, who tended to use slang words such as "ciggie" and "chippie." They were what you would call a very typical stereotype of a broad liverpudlian. Most of them had problems aswell. For instance, Mickey in "Blood Brothers" has family problems because he has many older siblings which means he gets a lot of hand-me-down clothes and gets bullied by his older brother Sammy who breaks his toys. Rita in "Educating Rita" has many conflicts with her husband Denny who doesn't want her to carry on with her tuition from Frank. ...read more.

Middle

Frank in Educating Rita has a drink addiction, yet has a comfortable lifestyle and is on a stable income. Mr. Briggs doesn't like the children at the school where he works because they are less fortunate than himself, he says "most of them were rejects on the day they were born." Eddie's adopted mother in Blood Brothers, Mrs. Lyons, is supersticious and unhappy. Quote: "The shoes! The shoes! On the table! Get them off! Get them off!" Frank and Mr. Briggs are in many ways the same, they both wear suits and dress smartly, they both have similar lifestyles and they both have some sort of problem (i.e. the drink and the hatred for people less fortunate than him). This is where I think that Blood Brothers is different, it doesn't contain a male character as old as Frank or Mr. Briggs who appears often in the story. Whereas the conversations between adult and youth in the other stories are mainly comical, like in Our Day Out when the two lads are caught smoking at the back of the bus, in Blood Brothers they are more intense. I think Blood Brothers on the whole is more intense. In Blood Brothers Russell uses a narrator drifting in and out of the play at certain times, saying daunting things about the scene that has just happened, or is going to happen. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the beginning of "Blood Brothers" Mrs. Johnston is seen dancing in a pub singing a song with the lines "Oh we went dancing." in the chorus. As the play continues she occasionally sings this line but at a tempo which reflects the mood of the play itself. In "Our Day Out" the songs are cheerful and uplifting "We're off, we're off, we're off in a motor car." The themes of the three plays are all linked in many ways. As I have said before, social inequality connects all three, another is the fact they are all set in and around Liverpool with some of the characters in each play speaking with a very broad Liverpudlian accent. Finally, the last one is that they all contain an aspect concerning death. I.e. In Blood Brothers, Mickey and Eddie, in Educating Rita, Rita's flatmate tries to commit suicide, and in Our Day Out one of the pupils called Carol also attempts to kill herself "Try an' get me an' I'll jump over." I believe that Willy Russell features the aspects of social inequality, hatred, death, abuse, love, irony and humour in each play because he knows they have a hard-hitting impact on the audience. Also I think it is because at some time in his life he has been affected significantly by them and so, involves them in something which he can express his feelings and emotions at. Writing. ...read more.

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